China Corners Green Manufacture – Clue in Barack

Posted on February 1, 2010

Various news outlets have been reporting it but it has not hit the big story category yet: China will be the first energy independent nation; they hold key minerals that could keep us and other nations from it.

In the seminal 1967 movie, The Graduate, the key economic word was “plastics.”

For our future to be truly green, the magic word will be “neodymium,”  a rare earth ore essential in the production of  “the lightweight permanent magnets that make Prius motors zoom and for the generators that give wind turbines their electrical buzz. In fact, if we are going to make even a few million of the hybrid and electric cars that are supposed to help rescue the planet from global warming, we will need to double production of neodymium in short order.” [The Atlantic]

But another country has effectively cornered the market on it.  The same country that has gone in to Africa to gather other equally rare earth ores and that covets those it has in country: China.  “[I]n 2006, nearly all of the world’s roughly 137,000-ton supply of rare-earth oxides came from China.” And China has economically feasible means for recovering it in their own country. We do not. We are hampered by environmental requirements in mining.  Most alarming is the fact that China has begun to protect its supply and is reducing the amount it is willing to export.  In short, we will be exchanging dependency on one source for energy on another.

China is moving ahead so rapidly that wind energy will be its major source for energy by 2020 [The Jack Lifton Report] And to ensure their future in this area, they are out after mines in Australia. Prior to takeover of the Australian mines, production of neodymium is around 20,000 t per year, and all of it is produced in China.

The only possible non-Chinese, or non-Chinese owned, sources for neodymium for the open market now are the Americans, privately owned Molycorp Minerals and privately owned Thorium Energy, and the Canadians, publicly traded Great Western Minerals Group and publicly traded Avalon Rare Metals. [Jack Lifton Report]

This whole scenario calls into question the intelligence of our government and our industry. We have practically handed the keys to the auto industry over to China – now the largest producer of cars in the world when GM sold out their part of a partnership to them.

How can we call ourselves the leaders of the western world when our leaders, democrat and republican, have been selling us on the idea of self-sufficiency through wind turbines and battery powered cars?  Who is protecting the interests of average Americans? The US Government has been caught up short by its own poor planning and lack of creative initiatives.


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